(HealthDay News) — Four of six Alzheimer’s patients responded to deep brain stimulation (DBS) in a pilot study, German researchers report. The new study was published online May 6 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Researchers tested DBS on six patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. They targeted the nucleus basalis of Meynert. The brains of the patients were stimulated for 11 months after they went through a month of two weeks on and two weeks off treatment. Over the year, the memory skills of four patients stayed stable or improved, while memory declined in two others.

The researchers didn’t compare the treated patients to a “control” group of other patients with Alzheimer’s who didn’t undergo DBS, making it difficult to know if the treatment actually had any effect. The researchers reported there were no severe side effects from the DBS itself, although the devices malfunctioned in two patients, requiring them to undergo surgeries to implant the electrodes again.

The German researchers report that they’ve received funding from various drug and medical device companies; one coauthor reports coholding patents on a type of brain stimulation and being a shareholder of a company that plans to develop new stimulators.

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